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Breakfast Topic: Does WoW ever make you feel old?

So much has changed in the game of late. The acceleration to experience has some grumbling "I remember when you had to grind your levels," a la Grandpa Simpson. In fact, for those who have been playing the game for a couple of years, nostalgia not only kicks in, but a little dementia as well. The_ivorytower recently posted on the WoW LJ about this very topic, about all those moments that add up in WoW to just make you feel just plain old.

Among the things she brings up are those times in long past when spells like Consecration and Evocation were talents. Or how about the Unending Breath that never actually ended, allowing the Undead to sit underwater untouchable by their opponents? She mentions also Mor'Ladim and his insane aggro radius; he would basically run straight at you once you set foot in Raven Hill. And the Sons of Arugal that would descend in a pack to pick your bones clean in Silverpine before you even knew they were there.

Because this game has changed so very much since launch, often times you can date yourself from the elements you remember before they were removed. Plains Running anyone?

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics

Gifts from the Patch 2.3 fairy

I, like so many others, eagerly logged in to the game last night to survey all the new goodies brought by the Patch 2.3 fairy. Many things were not a surprise, if only because we've been reporting so assiduously on what was coming here on Wow Insider, coupled with the fact that I spent a little time on the PTR myself nosing around. A few things though changed without any formal announcement, and it's these little gems that make patch day a true joy.

First I noticed the changes to the mail system. You can now attach up to seven items to a mail message, making my use of the CT Mail Mod obsolete. Also, when you hover over the mail icon now, it tells you who has sent you that letter waiting for you in the mailbox. I know the new hover icons with NPCs were already on the PTR, but their addition to the game makes navigating cities a delight. Each icon tells you instantly who has a quest, who can repair, and who just wants to chat.

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Filed under: Patches

Official Zul'Aman trailer

With the release of Patch 2.3, Blizzard brought us a new instance, Zul'Aman. As with the release of the Black Temple, Blizzard put together a trailer introducing the instance that gives us some background on exactly why Zul'jin is so very cranky these days.

Now I don't know about you, but I was personally a little confused as to why Zul'jin, a guy that's pretty much a god amongst trolls, would all of a sudden turn against the Horde. As it turns out, having to saw your own arm off will do that to a troll.

Filed under: Patches, Machinima, Instances

Where did you get your WoW name?

Ippy on LJ has been thinking names of late. He asked for people to tell him how they came up with the names for their characters. Coming up with a character name is always a challenge for me. It's not that I don't have ideas, it's just that for the most part, when I start a new alt, they are a blank slate on that character selection screen, and I find it hard to pigeon-hole someone I barely know with a name that might only allow them to play a certain way or take certain talents.

As it turns out, there are all kinds of places that players get their names, from mythology to foreign languages to household pets. I currently tend to use two different types of naming conventions. I have those boring character names I have been toting from game to game with me over the years, and I have the "I should so name a druid Roflmeow" inspiration moments. Yes, I can be silly too on occasion.

In any case, I extend this question to you, the reader. Where do you glean your inspiration for naming your characters? Or are you the brave type to choose names from the randomizer and have done with?

Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves

Level 1-60 in less than 6 days

So, as we all wait for the servers to come up, let's talk leveling a bit, shall we? I know what I will do when I first log in: switch over to my little shadow priest and check out the changes to the increased leveling exp. It's high time she left the 40's, don't you think?

Now a couple weeks ago I started a little experiment to see fast it took to level before and after the patch. I didn't get far -- I blame NaNoWriMo -- but luckily I wasn't the only one with this idea. Agent of Shattered Hand recently finished leveling a character from 1-60 on the PTR. So exactly how long did it take? In the end his /played was a 5 days, 5 hours. He did a few things differently than we would have to prove exactly how improved the experience gains really are. For instance he logged his character out without using inns in order to minimize the amount of rested XP he received, presumably so that the experiment would run mostly using normal experience as a condition.

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Filed under: Patches, Leveling

Arcane Brilliance: Gears of War, part 3

As it turns out, there's a whole heap of great items out there for leveling mages. There's so very much available that sometimes it's hard to pick and choose what to look for at any given level. That's where we come in. The last couple of weeks we've been doing the research so you don't have to, coming up with suggestions for items that will help you in your quest for magey world domination.

As the levels get higher, the situation with mage gear gets more complicated. While on the one hand more options are open to you, selecting between those options becomes more important, as this is gear you will wear longer. Simply put, since it takes longer to level between levels 40 and 60 than it does to level between 20 and 40, the gear matters more.

It's at this point in the game that you want to start looking into getting some lower level enchants on your gear to give you the best possible performance out of your armor. If you happen to have trained in enchanting along with your tailoring, then you're ahead of the game.

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Filed under: Mage, Items, (Mage) Arcane Brilliance

Breakfast Topic: Dustwallow, the new STV

Dvons of WoW Ladies brought up an interesting point the other day. For those who play on PvP servers, Dustwallow Marsh is looking to be the new gank-a-palooza zone after Patch 2.3. Players in their 30s will now have a second quest hub to work through, although I don't know how much different a swamp really is from a jungle in terms of terrain. Less trolls perhaps, but still a lot of water, a lot of trees, and a lot of crocolisks.

When I got a chance to hop on in to the PTR and try the new marsh on for size, I was delighted. Once again, I feel like I have been given a zone back. Not only will we finally get a chance to continue quest lines that have dropped by the wayside, there are entire new ones that absolutely rock. I won't tell you much, but there's a certain large fish, and some cannons, and suddenly Nat Pagle is asking you to do completely wrong things with fish bait.

Dustwallow is no longer "that zone I travel through on my way to the Barrens." It only makes sense that the place will be flooded with people trying to get their quests done. I personally don't play on a PvP server, unless you count that belf mage I made on a whim, but I imagine that the craziness in the next couple of weeks will eventually die down as people speed through the levels toward 60. Or perhaps the marsh will become everyone's favorite contested zone. Either way, bring extra socks. That's what they always say when you're preparing for battle in the swamps.

Filed under: Patches, PvP, Breakfast Topics, Quests

A new class, why not a new race?

The DK is coming in WotLK, adding another class to the mix along with the concept of Hero Classes. In a forum post yesterday players voiced their desire to play new races in addition to having access to the Death Knight class. Looking at it logically, it only makes sense that since the first expansion brought us two new races we would see new classes in the next one. It's like a new-content see-saw. But some of us don't look at things logically, and I can totally understand this too. I mean, yes I want to play nymphs and Pandaren and Worgen. I would also like to have a viable MageTank set that gives me enough armor to stand up against Illidan. Oh, oh and infinite mana. And a pony. It simply isn't going to happen.

My concern is not that we aren't getting new races. I am worried that adding only one class will toss things out of whack. When TBC was announced, they let us know that the Horde would be able to play paladins, and so for balance they added shaman to the Alliance side. Balance is the key word here. When we have Death Knights added to the game, there will be only one Hero Class, albeit available to both factions. I get the feeling that this will throw off the balance more than they realize. Not so much because there will be another tanking class, but more because Blizzard cannot anticipate how players will actually play the character. Sure it's a tanking class, but if players start using it as a DPS class despite the best intentions of the devs, things could go badly.

Considering the magic-centric storylines in Northrend, I would feel more comfortable if they added the Archmage along with the Death Knight. Adding the Archmage would allow players to play a mage of any race, opening up a whole new world of role play possibilities. Or how about the Demon Hunter? With so much going on in Outland, couldn't we use an anti-Illidan to clean house, so-to-speak? What do you think? Is Blizzard making a mistake by adding only one class into the game?

Filed under: Classes, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums

Wintersaber rep guide

The folks over at Ten Ton Hammer have released a reputation guide focusing on getting yourself a Wintersaber. While this is nothing new to the game, I was thinking about all those new players that have joined the fold in recent years. Perhaps you haven't gotten a chance to experience some of the older rep grinds. For those of us who have been playing for a while and are fond of prestige mounts, you might remember the Wintersaber fondly. Good news is that the reputation with Wintersaber Riders is being revamped on Tuesday, so it will be easier to try your hand at getting yourself a big white (or are they purple?) kitty.

At its essence the Wintersaber is another Alliance epic mount, attainable as a faction reward from doing quests for the Wintersaber Riders in Winterspring. Yes, people actually used to go to Winterspring for something other than Mountain Silversage and the Midsummer Fire Festival. The Ten Ton guide gives you nice simple tips for how to get to exalted so that you too can ride the winter(saber.)

Filed under: Guides, Mounts

Updating the graphics of WoW

The times they are a changin'. If you've ogled the latest WotLK screenshots as much as I have, then you'll notice that the art department at Blizzard has been pushing the envelope style-wise of late. It seems that since TBC the graphics in WoW have gotten not just better, but measurably more detailed and stylistic. Each new instance, area, race -- heck, even the new weapons added to the game -- they all just get more interesting and creative as time goes on. I am continually amazed at what these artists do with 1000 polygons.

Some players are asking about updating the older models in the game to reflect the updated style evidenced in the newer content. Anyone who's run Old Hillsbrad can see exactly how far we've come from the WoW original models, and some would like to be able to have new choices as we progress into WotLK. Drysc reminds us, though, that some people are very attached to their character's physical appearance. Some players have been with those characters since 2004. To change their faces would be like giving a friend plastic surgery. Or what about body types? Would you feel that you were playing the same character if there was suddenly a major change to their physique?

Personally, I am eager for the hairstyle changes coming in the expansion. I don't feel like my character needs a new face perse, but the difference between a Blood Elf or Draenei hairstyle and a human one is pretty drastic. I actually considered rerolling my main character because the new races just look a whole lot cooler than she does. Faces though, I'm not sure. How would you react if Blizz changed the models, or gave you more choices?

Filed under: Blizzard, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums